Creating Enabling Legal Environments: Conducting National Reviews and Multi-Sector Consultations on Legal and Policy Barriers to HIV ServicesPublished on Thursday, 29 August 2013 09:48
Undertaking a national review and consultation on legal and policy barriers to HIV services is an important step in strengthening a country’s response to HIV and AIDS. The primary aims of conducting a national review and consultation are to identify and review HIV, health and any other related laws, regulations, policies and practices to determine what these laws and policies are, as well as how they are implemented and enforced in the country in order to determine the extent to which the legal environment protects rights and promotes access to HIV-related services. This enables a country to build a comprehensive picture of the legal and regulatory environment, its strengths as well as its gaps and challenges, and to make recommendations for creating an enabling and protective environment in line with national, regional and international human rights and health commitments.
National consultations are also conducted with the aim of developing a time-bound action plan for addressing key barriers in the legal environment – including laws, law enforcement practices and access to justice – and identifying an oversight mechanism to monitor implementation of the action plan. Where national reviews and consultations are conducted in a consultative, participatory and transparent manner, as recommended by this Guidance Document, the processes should also achieve the aims of increasing awareness and understanding of a range of stakeholders on HIV, law and human rights issues, building consensus within a country on necessary actions to strengthen the legal environment, fostering strategic alliances between different sectors of governments including parliamentarians, justice, law enforcement and health, affected communities and others, and establishing a multi-sectoral group of stakeholders tasked with ensuring the implementation and monitoring of recommendations/outputs.
Considerable work has been done in recent years in Asia and the Pacific towards the creation of enabling legal and social environments for effective HIV responses, through both regional and country-level initiatives. Although governments made new commitments in 2011 and 2012 to conduct national reviews and consultations in order to accelerate progress towards targets including the elimination of HIV-related stigma and discrimination, gender inequality and gender-based violence and ensuring affected to HIV services for those who need them, the implementation of these commitments at the national level should (i) build on prior efforts to create an enabling legal and social environment for the HIV response and (ii) allow for some prioritisation of efforts so as to focus attention on those aspects of the legal environments that are key barriers to effective HIV responses.
The Guidance Document provides practical advice for countries wishing to conduct a national review and consultation on legal and policy barriers to access to HIV services by PLHIV and key populations. It includes:
- Brief background information on key HIV, law and human rights issues and key populations at higher risk in the region, as well as links to additional resources on ways of creating enabling legal environments for effective HIV responses;
- Information on planning for reviews and consultations, including how to ensure that the process is consultative, participatory and inclusive of a range of key stakeholders and populations and that it is relevant to and focused on priority HIV, law and human rights issues within the country;
- Guidance on undertaking reviews and consultations including recommended methodologies for identifying and analysing national laws, regulations and policies and information on stigma, discrimination, human rights violations, key populations at higher risk and access to justice and law enforcement issues; and
- Recommendations for developing targeted, action-oriented recommendations for follow-up accompanied by implementation and monitoring mechanisms.
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